Spring is a great time to get back on track with eating healthier and getting more veggies in your diet. One way to do that is to add more spring vegetables to your diet. Let’s look at some of the healthiest spring vegetables you can add to your plate.
Asparagus is a spring vegetable that has been around for centuries, and it packs a nutritional punch. The name “asparagus” comes from the Greek word aspharagos, which means “sprout of a spear.” Asparagus is mostly associated with the month of April, which is appropriate because April was named for the Latin word for “to open.” When an asparagus spear shoots out of the ground in spring, you can say it has “opened.”
Why should you add asparagus to your plate this summer? Asparagus is one of the best sources of folate, a B-vitamin that’s important for cell replication and healthy red blood cells. Some studies show folate may lower the risk of certain types of cancers, although it’s an area that needs more research. Asparagus is also rich in free-radical fighting antioxidants, including quercetin and kaempferol, which keep your cells healthy.
You can steam or microwave asparagus, but there are other creative ways to use this veggie as well. It’s great on pizza and pasta, and if you dice up some water chestnuts and mix them into chopped asparagus, you’ll have a delicious Asian-inspired stir-fry. You could also go French by using it in a quiche or souffle.
Also, look for purple asparagus when you shop. The purple color comes from anthocyanins, compounds with strong anti-inflammatory activity that are also linked with heart health.
Beets are nutrient-rich and an excellent source of antioxidants and compounds with anti-inflammatory activity. The soluble fiber is heart healthy. Plus, beets are rich in nitrates, natural chemicals that your blood vessels convert to nitric oxide. This conversion improves how blood vessels function by lowering the risk of blood clots and reducing blood pressure. Beets also contain betanin (a plant pigment). At least in mice, betanin appears to protect against nerve cell degeneration in diseases like Parkinson’s disease.
Beets are a delicious, versatile vegetable. They’re great raw, steamed, roasted, or pickled. Their versatility means you can use them in any dish you desire! Here are some ways to enjoy beets:
- Add beets to salads or side dishes for an added crunch and color
- Grill them for a smoky flavor and caramelized edges
- Roast them with olive oil and balsamic vinegar for an easy side dish that goes with anything
- Puree them into soup or dip (like hummus!)
- Mix them into baked goods like brownies or cookies
Watercress is a springtime superfood. It’s a cruciferous vegetable and contains vitamins and minerals, such as vitamin K, vitamin A, calcium, iron, magnesium, and manganese. You can steam it or sauté it and add it to your favorite main dishes or soups.
Like other cruciferous vegetables, scientists are exploring its potential anti-cancer benefits. With only two calories per cup serving, it’s also a great way to watch your calorie intake while still getting all your daily vitamins and minerals. One study found that watercress reduced markers of damage to DNA, a cell’s genetic material. Plus, it has antioxidant activity.
You can use it in salads, sandwiches, or even just add some to a bowl of soup for extra flavor and texture. Watercress wilts a bit when cooked but still holds its own against stronger flavors like garlic and onion. You can eat it raw in salads or sandwiches, blend it into smoothies or soups, or sauté it with other spring vegetables.
Why should you enjoy more artichokes this summer? They top the list of fiber-rich veggies with 7 grams of fiber in a medium artichoke. Studies show they’re also packed with cell-protective antioxidants and potassium for heart health. They also contain inulin, a type of prebiotic fiber that helps promote gut microbiome health.
If you’re planning on eating more artichokes this spring, don’t feel like you have to throw out your old recipes. This green veggie is versatile enough to work in many dishes and can be a tasty addition to almost any meal.
One way to enjoy an artichoke is to steam it, sprinkle on some salt and pepper, pop off the leaves and dip them in your favorite sauce as you go. Scrape off the meat with your teeth until you get to the heart, which is the best part. You can also stuff artichokes with a breadcrumb mixture or hearty stuffing and roast them whole, or bake them into a quiche or lasagna.
Artichokes are also excellent grilled or steamed whole and served with melted butter as a side dish. Be sure not to oversteam them, though, as they get tough quickly. Also, be careful when removing the choke (the fuzzy center), so you don’t tear up any leaves while doing it.
If you’re having trouble finding fresh artichokes at your local market, canned ones are always an option! Just make sure they aren’t packed in water. Instead, look for cans that say, “packed in brine” or “packed in water.” They’ll last for about two weeks unopened, so stock up on them if possible!
Also in the cruciferous vegetable family, radishes may have anti-cancer benefits, like other crucifers. Their peppery taste will titillate your taste buds too. Here are some ways to enjoy radishes:
- Boil, roast, or pickle them
- Add shredded or grated beets to salads
- Make beet chips by thinly slicing fresh beets and baking until crispy
- Blend beets into smoothies for an extra dose of vitamins and minerals
- Make beet soup
- Pair them with orange slices and walnuts in a salad. (Yummy!)
The Bottom Line
If you’re a fan of fresh vegetables, there’s no better time to enjoy them than springtime. Not only can you revel in the wide range available to you, but you’ll also benefit from the many nutritional benefits they provide. Enjoy eating more vegetables this spring!
- “7 Reasons Why You Should Eat More Asparagus – Healthline.” 04 Apr. 2018, .healthline.com/nutrition/asparagus-benefits.
- “Top 8 Health Benefits of Artichokes and Artichoke Extract.” 16 Jan. 2019, .healthline.com/nutrition/artichoke-benefits.
- Gill CI, Haldar S, Boyd LA, Bennett R, Whiteford J, Butler M, Pearson JR, Bradbury I, Rowland IR. Watercress supplementation in diet reduces lymphocyte DNA damage and alters blood antioxidant status in healthy adults. Am J Clin Nutr. 2007 Feb;85(2):504-10. doi: 10.1093/ajcn/85.2.504. PMID: 17284750.
- “The Health Benefits of Beets – Cleveland Clinic.” 28 Dec. 2020, health.clevelandclinic.org/the-health-benefits-of-beets/.
- Thong-Asa W, Jedsadavitayakol S, Jutarattananon S. Benefits of betanin in rotenone-induced Parkinson mice. Metab Brain Dis. 2021 Dec;36(8):2567-2577. doi: 10.1007/s11011-021-00826-0. Epub 2021 Aug 26. PMID: 34436745.
- “Are Radishes Good for You? – Healthline.” 17 May. 2016, .healthline.com/health/food-nutrition/the-benefits-of-radishes.